Qualcomm Accused of Antitrust Violations in South Korea, Faces a $853 Million Fine

Qualcomm Accused of Antitrust Violations in South Korea, Faces a $853 Million Fine

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Qualcomm has faced antitrust accusations in multiple countries over the last few years. The company recently settled a big one within the country of China, and they were accused of similar allegations in the EU back in 2015 as well. Today, it’s been announced that a regulator within South Korea wants to fine Qualcomm $853 million over its own patent-licensing business. This announcement comes after a 3-year investigation completed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission feels that Qualcomm has violated the country’s antitrust laws by limiting competing chip makers’ access to its patents. The commission also feels that Qualcomm ended up forcing smartphone OEMs into unfair license agreements by refusing to supply important chips for phones to companies who didn’t agree with their terms (which includes purchasing licenses the OEM didn’t need). Lastly, they’re accused of using their market position as a leveraging tool in an attempt to force smartphone OEMs into accepting unfair terms.

As mentioned, we’ve seen these accusations come up before in regards to Qualcomm, as other countries have come to the same conclusion as well. In previous cases, Qualcomm has gone ahead and paid the fine so they could continue doing business in the country. However, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Qualcomm will contest the decision. Qualcomm doesn’t feel they have hindered other chip makers from selling their own products within the country.

Qualcomm also says their licensing deals have existed in South Korea, and all over the world, for decades. Since South Korea hadn’t felt the need to complain about their business practices before, they question the legitimacy about this recent accusation. This recent ruling won’t go into effect until the commission issues a formal written order, which is said to take anywhere from weeks to months to put together. It’s at this point where Qualcomm will have 60 days to either pay the fine or initiate the appeal process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal